Horror: French composer is killed by a bear

Horror: French composer is killed by a bear


norman lebrecht

August 20, 2019

Julien Gauthier, 44, composer in residence with the Orchestre de Bretagne, has died in horrific circumstances in Canada, a country where he grew up.

In search of inspiration for a symphony, Gauthier was camping with photographer Camille Toscani near the Mackenzie River at Tulita in northwestern Canada when, in the middle of the night, he was grabbed by the neck by a grizzly bear and dragged into a forest.

His body was found the next day.

More here.

Julien’s last message: Quelques nouvelles de notre expédition avec Camille Toscani et quelques photos après déjà 5 jours de canoë et de camping sauvage (dont 3 sans avoir croisé âme qui vive… à part 4 ours 🐻 quantité d’oiseaux en tous genres, et une trace de loup qui est apparue pendant la nuit 20 mètres en dessous de la tente!) Ce soir c’est repos bien mérité (après 1 journée de pluie incessante) dans un petit village d’une cinquantaine d’habitants, Jean-Marie River, et ici il y a la wifi 😉 Les paysages et l’expérience sont pour l’instant incroyables, le temps passe de la chaleur étouffante au froid, bref c’est intense, fatiguant et inspirant! Et déjà quelques sons très marquants enregistrés:) D’autres nouvelles la prochaine fois qu’il y a du réseau!


UPDATE: The orchestra’s director has posted this message:

My dear friends,

I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of our road companion, the composer and associate artist of the symphonic orchestra of Brittany, Julien Gauthier. He went on the Mackenzie River in the great Canadian North to collect sounds and photograph this land that is still little touched by man. He was accompanied by Camille Toscani, a researcher he had met at the islands islands.

He was a sensitive, generous and talented man that many of us had the chance to know by his work and the gift of his friendship. His work was faithful to his curious spirit, humble in front of the vast power and beauty of nature. First of all, he wanted to transmit by his music to the public his love and respect for nature.

On a personal note, I am extremely happy to have known Julien. He brought me a sense of adventure, wonder and a rare intelligence. I’m gonna miss him terribly. We still had so much way to go together.

Tonight we are thinking about his friend Laura, his father Alain and all those he touched.

Marc Feldman


  • Alexander says:

    be his soul in peace now …..

  • LewesBird says:

    What a tale. Positively wintry.

  • Davikoff says:

    In his last moments, do you think he said, “I am a liberal who believes in a gun-free world”?

    A life that didn’t need to be lost.

    • Sick of stupid people says:

      What the hell is this kind of comment and why do I have to see this crap on a classical music forum. What is wrong with you people?

      • Bruce says:

        People (or Russian bots) from “outside” the classical music world drop in now and then. Periodically we get incels and MGTOW’s* commenting on sexual harassment threads; they usually disappear after having deposited their little turds of wisdom. And there are several regulars who appear to know something about music but seem to get more pleasure from belittling liberals than from talking about music.

        Hard to tell whether this one’s someone with knowledge of music who’s a gun obsessive, or simply a gun obsessive. Either way, he doesn’t seem to have noticed that the victim was (a) French (so less likely to carry a gun, let alone to have brought it across the ocean), (b) on a camping trip as opposed to a hunting trip (so less likely to carry a gun) or (c) that this happened in Canada (where guns are less common in any case).


        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Had your little hate-fuelled rant today. That’s what I love about liberals; they’re so full of loathing. They’d be happy to eradicate everybody who doesn’t share their dopey ideologies.

          Now back to the story; that man met a tragic end doing what he obviously loved.

        • Alphonse says:

          You are as intolerable as ever.

        • Alphonse says:

          Nota bene- my previous comment about being intolerable was directed at the ever-insufferable Bruce, not Sue.

          • Bruce says:

            Haha, I was just going to ask 😀

          • Alphonse says:

            Let the “thumbs-down” roll- I have no doubt there will be more where that came from. A natural consequence of speaking truths people don’t want to hear, as it shatters their precious worldview. But, in the words of one George Costanza- “I fear no reprisal.”

      • Mark S. says:

        He has a point though. Is a diehard liberal going to remain faithful to their cause and just let the bear kill them even if I gun were available or would the survival instinct kick in? I think situations like that prove to use that free will is a myth.

      • Nils Angmar says:

        Here on SD, whenever you are confronted with unsolicited political commentary, brazen irreverence, arrogant posturing, deranged sociopolitical claptrap etc. and you wonder “What the hell is this kind of comment and why do I have to see this crap on a classical music forum”, you can answer those questions quickly by remembering that 54% of the users of that classical music forum are Americans….

        • JJC says:

          And I am a proud American who takes umbrage, severely, from your stupid, narrow and bigoted comment. Jerk.

        • Enquiring Mind says:

          Any comment has a ~50% chance of being from an American (and 50% from a non-American). So, any pattern that you see must only confirm your own bias, which we can clearly see. By the way, was yours a musical comment or are you “one of us”?

          • Nils Angmar says:

            „Any comment has a ~50% chance of being from an American (and 50% from a non-American)“
            -Absolutely! We non-Americans can’t help but litter a thread about a Franco-Canadian composer being killed by a bear in Canada with comments about „liberals“, „conservatives“ and US-American-inspired views on the merits/demerits of owning personal firearms.
            And the point is not to exclusively post „musical comments“ but to restrict comments about individual political standpoints and their debate to the appropriate blogs and forums…

    • Fan says:

      This comment proves that at least some of the “classical music” listeners are as deranged as some f the death metal music listeners.

    • Brettermeier says:

      @Davikoff: You must be Maria Butina’s replacement!

    • Comic book cos-players imagine that a gun will stop a bear attack, but people with experience know otherwise…


      “What’s the best way to defend yourself if you run into a grizzly while hunting—or if a grizzly tries to run into you?

      “Nearly all authorities on the subject agree that the first two words to memorize in this regard are “pepper spray….”

      “…For those who believe a gun is still a better bet to stop a bear, Matheny adds:

      “Some people think a .44 magnum or large-caliber rifle is going to have the ‘power’ to stop a bear. But you’re talking about a bullet not much wider than a writing pen hitting a vital area. That’s assuming you even get a bullet off. Most times when someone with a firearm is attacked, they don’t get a shot off. You’ve got to get the gun up, aim, and fire. With pepper spray, you can fire right from the holster, putting up a wide stream, even a fog, of deterrent. You can respond instantly and the likelihood of hitting the bear is much greater.”

      • Smokey TB says:

        You libs remind me of Biden when he suggested that people get a double barrel shotgun to scare off home invaders. If it is too much of a challenge to hit a bear in the “kill zone” then you shouldn’t even be out in an area with a large bear population. Should we disarm all police officers too since things happen so quickly and accuracy goes out the window? And if you don’t have time to get a shot off then you won’t have time for the spray either. Please tell me that a fully automatic assault weapon will not take a bear down. The Swiss are armed to the teeth yet it is a beautiful, safe country. So easy to identify your true globalist agenda.

    • SEATAC says:

      If you knew anything, you’d know that a gun is a poor defense for a charging grizzly. A grizzly will keep going and kill you even if you’ve parked a few choice bullets in his body. Bear spray is a far more effective defense.

      • Garth says:

        Do you know how many times pepper spray has failed police? Same thing with bears. You need to have a lethal force option available at all times regardless of how many rainbows you live under.

        • SEATAC says:

          Police use pepper spray against people. Bears have vastly more sensitive noses than people. Your comparison is irrelevant. Bear spray is vastly more effective than guns against bears. Anyone with actual back country experience will confirm this to you. Your worship for your penis substitute notwithstanding.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I always carry bear spray in my purse when visiting my aunt Delia in London. I always get so nervous on the circle line.


      • Bruce says:

        We’re not interested in “knowing” anything here. We only care about mocking liberals.

    • Kelly says:

      What cement head you are!

      A right wing fascist gun nut wouldn’t have stood a chance against a surprise grizzly attack either. The only difference being is the fascist would have shot himself in the foot trying to pump off a desperation round or two just prior to his own mauling.

      A life that didn’t need to experience a self inflicted gunshot wound prior to being lost

    • Alexander Tarak says:

      Moronic !!

  • Fritz says:

    Pauvre homme, c’est terrible. Chez nous en France, personne n’a été tué par un ours depuis 1918.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Probablement un boche.

      • Fritz says:

        No, it was a French soldier (un poilu), Henri Pestourié, who fell in the bears pit of the Jardin des Plantes. He was trying to get his knife back, but the polar bears mauled him to death.

      • Robert Groen says:

        Not your funniest joke, John.

    • Gustavo says:

      En Europe centrale, les humains ont tué presque tous les ours.

      Il y a maintenant plus de compositeurs que d’ours.

      Au Canada, il y a plus d’ours que de compositeurs.

      Nous avons tendance à oublier.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Terrible and crazy way to go. He was a composer (not French but Franco-Canadien) who sought wild, deserted places for inspiration:


    A remarkable talent, much of his music is a sensitive and expressive process music, but also includes an unusual string quartet more or less in the style of Schoenberg’s ‘Verklärte Nacht’:


    • Marc says:

      Read this first thing yesterday and came back today to read… too many nonsense comments. Was going to add a link to M. Gauthier’s site: happily, you had already done this.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Horrifying death to contemplate. My condolences.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Is there an English translation of his last message?

    • Fritz says:

      Some news of our expedition with Camille Toscani and some pictures after already 5 days of canoeing and wild camping (including 3 without having crossed anybody… except 4 bears plenty of birds of all kinds, and a wolf track who appeared during the night 20 meters below the tent!) Tonight is well deserved rest (after 1 day of incessant rain) in a small village of about fifty inhabitants, Jean-Marie River, and here there’s wifi Scenery and experience are incredible for the moment, the weather passes from the sweltering heat to the cold, well it’s intense, tiring and inspiring! And already some very remarkable sounds recorded 🙂 Other news the next time there is network!

    • Bruce says:

      Thanks to the over-literal, nuance-free miracle that is Google Translate:

      “Some news of our expedition with Camille Toscani and some pictures after already 5 days of canoeing and wild camping (including 3 without having crossed the soul … except 4 bears amount of birds of all kinds, and a trace of wolf who appeared during the night 20 meters below the tent!) Tonight is well deserved rest (after 1 day of incessant rain) in a small village of about fifty inhabitants, Jean-Marie River, and here there is wifi The scenery and the experience are incredible for the moment, the time passes from the sweltering heat to the cold, in short it is intense, tiring and inspiring! And already some very remarkable sounds recorded 🙂 Other news the next time there is network!”

  • how tragic ; que c’est tragique!

  • Paul G. says:

    Europeans in North American wilderness is a bad combination… years ago I was hiking in Yosemite and came across a family of German tourists who were prodding a baby rattlesnake with a stick, completely oblivious to the extreme danger posed by their provocation and the close proximity of a highly-envenomed snake to their sandal-clad feet. Extensive precautions must be taken when in bear country, and sometimes these aren’t enough. Europe is a comparatively tame continent- North America likes to remind us once in a while that it is still happy to kill you.

  • Gustavo says:

    Why are car accidents socially accepted while accidents with bears are referred to as horror?

    • Hilary says:

      Indeed ….I think the pre-eminence of the car (as we know it today) will change.
      Already, we can see more cycle lanes in cities and other measures are taking place.

      • Gustavo says:

        Driving an E-scooter through a city with cars is still a higher risk than visiting Canada’s wilderness – statistically speaking.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. It is a psychological mystery. Maybe it is because we do need cars but not bears. But this will get complicated as soon as bears want to drive cars.

  • Hilary says:

    A tragic story and I send my sincere condolences but I’ve no idea why two bears were killed as part of the investigation.
    What does that achieve?

  • Doug says:

    The sheer ignorance and lack of experience in nature among SD readers is astounding just as it was with this unfortunate fellow. There is a reason that hunters who venture into Grizzly country always carry a .45-70 **cocked and locked** it is to survive a bear charge. And if you doubt the power of the .45-70 watch the following video. Bear spray? Only an utter fool travels with that. And by the way, I have lived in Grizzly country in Canada. We laugh at people who carry pepper spray saying that the bear will get a little spice with his meal. Just one fair warning to those of you whose only encounter with meat is in your Buffalo burger at a restaurant, believe it or not, this is how a human being gets meat before the days of virtue signaling wokescolds.

    • Antonia says:

      They were awakened from sleep by the bear. They didn’t have time to use either proposed weapon before Julien was already being bitten and dragged, regrettably. So this entire discussion is moot.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Fritz and Bruce: Many thanks for your English translations of Gauthier’s last message.